Author Topic: State lawmaker defends bike tax, says bicycling is not good for the environment  (Read 9993 times)

eyePod

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« Last Edit: March 04, 2013, 02:44:30 PM by eyePod »

Daley

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“You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car,” he said. However, he said he had not “done any analysis” of the difference in CO2 from a person on a bike compared to the engine of a car (others have).

Well, clearly by his logic it's all about eliminating all useless CO2 emissions at whatever expense necessary, no matter how irrational. Does this mean his policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will involve eliminating every unnecessary activity and living creature on the face of the earth to combat carbon emissions? If it does, perhaps he should start his elimination efforts for a greener earth with one of the biggest wastes of resources in the human race: clueless bureaucrats.

eyePod

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“You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car,” he said. However, he said he had not “done any analysis” of the difference in CO2 from a person on a bike compared to the engine of a car (others have).

Well, clearly by his logic it's all about eliminating all useless CO2 emissions at whatever expense necessary, no matter how irrational. Does this mean his policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will involve eliminating every unnecessary activity and living creature on the face of the earth to combat carbon emissions? If it does, perhaps he should start his elimination efforts for a greener earth with one of the biggest wastes of resources in the human race: clueless bureaucrats.

He doesn't want to eliminate it!  He just wants to tax it accordingly.  The best part for me was that he's a Tea Party member.  Aren't they supposed to hate all form of taxation?  Unbelievable.

Daley

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You're right, eyePod... I stand corrected. Clearly, by his own logic, he needs to be heavily taxed for his wasteful mouthbreathing instead.

Teapartiers. Oy.

ch12

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Came here to post the same link. I'm so astounded by his complete lack of understanding of the benefits of bicycling - and just of life. In general. You'd think that a Congressman might be able to understand taxes. Sometimes?

Jamesqf

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Not to mention his utter lack of understanding of basic biology, the carbon cycle, and atmospheric physics.  Bicyclists, like all animals, don't emit new CO2, in the increase atmospheric concentration sense unless they are consuming synthetic food created from petroleum.  It's just the same old carbon going round & round...

ncornilsen

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You could aurgue that fossil fuels are just releasing CO2 that's always been on Earth, I suppose.  And, it takes about 7 calories of fossil fuels to deliver 1 calorie to a person's mouth, on average. The guy's idea of what to do with the conclusion is all wrong, but perhaps bicycling isn't quite as carbon neutral as it appears!

One place I looked at calculated a really efficient car to release 150 grams of carbon per mile, and an adult runner to release 129, versus 8 to 10 grams at rest. It's always funny to look at things like this and find that some things regaurded as true have a really big "*" next to them!

eyePod

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One place I looked at calculated a really efficient car to release 150 grams of carbon per mile, and an adult runner to release 129, versus 8 to 10 grams at rest. It's always funny to look at things like this and find that some things regaurded as true have a really big "*" next to them!


And there are congressman who think that we should be taxing people who have hybrid cars more.  I don't understand why congress thinks their job is to squeeze the most money out of their constituents.

RoseRelish

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Wow...what a moron. He better not forget roller blades, baby strollers, and pogo sticks.

eyePod

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Wow...what a moron. He better not forget roller blades, baby strollers, and pogo sticks.

Plus there's those assholes who walk everywhere!  They aren't even paying sales tax on a bike clothes (at least in my state) don't have a sales tax!  They're basically getting around for FREE!  /s

Bakari

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You could aurgue that fossil fuels are just releasing CO2 that's always been on Earth, I suppose.  And, it takes about 7 calories of fossil fuels to deliver 1 calorie to a person's mouth, on average. The guy's idea of what to do with the conclusion is all wrong, but perhaps bicycling isn't quite as carbon neutral as it appears!

One place I looked at calculated a really efficient car to release 150 grams of carbon per mile, and an adult runner to release 129, versus 8 to 10 grams at rest. It's always funny to look at things like this and find that some things regarded as true have a really big "*" next to them!

A car would have to be 58MPG to be as low as 150g/m.  No car sold in the US gets mileage that good (without hypermiling), the average is 330/m.
Even considering a 58mpg car, it still does 30 g/mile worse than a human running at around 10-12 miles per hour. 

Of course, almost no one could sustain that speed over more than a mile or two, while the average car is driven 40 miles per day.

Those numbers are technically accurate, but they are cherry picked - and that's before considering James' point that the car releases carbon that has been trapped underground for billions of years, while our food absorbed atmospheric carbon last growing season.

Jack

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And there are congressman who think that we should be taxing people who have hybrid cars more.  I don't understand why congress thinks their job is to squeeze the most money out of their constituents.

That idea, at least, makes a half-decent amount of sense: the traditional purpose of the gas tax is to pay for road maintenance, and vehicles cause wear and tear to the road in proportion to their weight (or at least, in proportion to the square of their weight or something). Therefore, it's "unfair" for a 3000 lb, 50 MPG hybrid to be taxed less than a 3000 lb, 25 MPG non-hybrid car.

You could argue that it's good to encourage efficiency by giving high-MPG vehicles what amounts to a tax break, and I might agree with you, but at that point you're actually arguing for changing the purpose of the gas tax.

eyePod

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And there are congressman who think that we should be taxing people who have hybrid cars more.  I don't understand why congress thinks their job is to squeeze the most money out of their constituents.

That idea, at least, makes a half-decent amount of sense: the traditional purpose of the gas tax is to pay for road maintenance, and vehicles cause wear and tear to the road in proportion to their weight (or at least, in proportion to the square of their weight or something). Therefore, it's "unfair" for a 3000 lb, 50 MPG hybrid to be taxed less than a 3000 lb, 25 MPG non-hybrid car.

You could argue that it's good to encourage efficiency by giving high-MPG vehicles what amounts to a tax break, and I might agree with you, but at that point you're actually arguing for changing the purpose of the gas tax.

My main question is whether weight or general force applied to the road are contributing more to road wear/tear.  Bikes and cars actually have a roughly similar force (similar order of magnitude at least) applied to the road using some back of the envelope #'s.  And on top of that, a car's weight is spread out between 4 areas vs two on a bike.  The idea that a bike does more or even equivalent damage to a road really doesn't "ring true" with me, but I haven't been able to find anywhere that actually looks at this scientifically. 

The only reference I could find compared heavy trucking to regular cars.

mpbaker22

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And there are congressman who think that we should be taxing people who have hybrid cars more.  I don't understand why congress thinks their job is to squeeze the most money out of their constituents.

That idea, at least, makes a half-decent amount of sense: the traditional purpose of the gas tax is to pay for road maintenance, and vehicles cause wear and tear to the road in proportion to their weight (or at least, in proportion to the square of their weight or something). Therefore, it's "unfair" for a 3000 lb, 50 MPG hybrid to be taxed less than a 3000 lb, 25 MPG non-hybrid car.

You could argue that it's good to encourage efficiency by giving high-MPG vehicles what amounts to a tax break, and I might agree with you, but at that point you're actually arguing for changing the purpose of the gas tax.

My main question is whether weight or general force applied to the road are contributing more to road wear/tear.  Bikes and cars actually have a roughly similar force (similar order of magnitude at least) applied to the road using some back of the envelope #'s.  And on top of that, a car's weight is spread out between 4 areas vs two on a bike.  The idea that a bike does more or even equivalent damage to a road really doesn't "ring true" with me, but I haven't been able to find anywhere that actually looks at this scientifically. 

The only reference I could find compared heavy trucking to regular cars.

My guess is they maybe exert the same force on the road, but the bike is doing it over a tiny surface area compared to the car.  It breaks down to the weight times gravity for the downward force right?  Or does the rolling of the wheel in one way vs. the other create another force?

eyePod

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My guess is they maybe exert the same force on the road, but the bike is doing it over a tiny surface area compared to the car.  It breaks down to the weight times gravity for the downward force right?  Or does the rolling of the wheel in one way vs. the other create another force?

I'm sure that there's a lot that goes into it like speed, surface material (car tires are much harder/don't give as much), etc.  I can't imagine that a bike would do anywhere near the same damage as a car.

projekt

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This is essentially the Tea Party mentality. You come up with a snappy retort that you think makes do-gooders look like hypocrites, and then you make that your world view.

Jamesqf

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A car would have to be 58MPG to be as low as 150g/m.  No car sold in the US gets mileage that good (without hypermiling), the average is 330/m.

I beg to differ.  Even if you stick to new cars, the Tesla, Volt, and Nissan Leaf all do better than that.  If you go to the used car market, a Honda Insight will do quite a bit better - mine's averaged 71.4 mpg over the 110K miles I've driven it.

And, it takes about 7 calories of fossil fuels to deliver 1 calorie to a person's mouth, on average.

I'd really want to see evidence for that claim.  It's also rather unfair to use the fossil fuels used in producing the average diet, since the biker probably eats less highly-processed junk food, may eat more locally, etc.

GuitarStv

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The logical term for the argument against biking based on calories that is being presented here is "False premise".

It doesn't matter how many calories of fossil fuel it takes to deliver a calorie to a person's mouth.  Both the driver and biker need to eat.  Both the driver and biker need to exercise to stay fit and healthy.  You may well use fewer calories while driving a car than while biking . . . but to stay as fit and healthy, you would then need to do an activity that burns a similar number of calories.    Thus, when you look at the total system there's only additional gas consumption (and additional time required to get exercise) on the part of the driver . . . no real additional calories on the part of the biker.

The false premise of the initial argument is that the person who drives will not attempt to stay fit.

the fixer

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The logical term for the argument against biking based on calories that is being presented here is "False premise".

It doesn't matter how many calories of fossil fuel it takes to deliver a calorie to a person's mouth.  Both the driver and biker need to eat.  Both the driver and biker need to exercise to stay fit and healthy.  You may well use fewer calories while driving a car than while biking . . . but to stay as fit and healthy, you would then need to do an activity that burns a similar number of calories.    Thus, when you look at the total system there's only additional gas consumption (and additional time required to get exercise) on the part of the driver . . . no real additional calories on the part of the biker.

The false premise of the initial argument is that the person who drives will not attempt to stay fit.

Quite true.

It's also not fair to consider carbon emissions in the food supply chain unless you're also going to consider carbon emissions in the gasoline supply chain. A car may directly emit X grams of CO2 per mile travelled, but to extract, transport as crude, refine, then transport that gasoline took about as much energy as we get out of the gas. You obviously can't use gasoline for all of that overhead energy needed or you'd never be able to sell any fuel, so the bulk of it has to come from less expensive (and more carbon-emitting) forms of fuel, i.e. coal.

And if our food production still produces too much CO2, that's a food regulation problem, not a cycling regulation problem. A cyclist eating local/organic foods will have a greatly reduced environmental impact, and there are lots of great local food sources to pick from in Washington.

eyePod

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The logical term for the argument against biking based on calories that is being presented here is "False premise".

It doesn't matter how many calories of fossil fuel it takes to deliver a calorie to a person's mouth.  Both the driver and biker need to eat.  Both the driver and biker need to exercise to stay fit and healthy.  You may well use fewer calories while driving a car than while biking . . . but to stay as fit and healthy, you would then need to do an activity that burns a similar number of calories.    Thus, when you look at the total system there's only additional gas consumption (and additional time required to get exercise) on the part of the driver . . . no real additional calories on the part of the biker.

The false premise of the initial argument is that the person who drives will not attempt to stay fit.

I'm sure he would argue something along the following: "That guy who's using the eliptical at the local LA Fitness DROVE to get there and therefore payed his taxes for the road usage!" (completely ignoring all of the extra carbon emissions the person popped out while exercising, which don't contribute to a net increase in greenhouse gases anyways!)

anastrophe

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It's also not fair to consider carbon emissions in the food supply chain unless you're also going to consider carbon emissions in the gasoline supply chain. A car may directly emit X grams of CO2 per mile travelled, but to extract, transport as crude, refine, then transport that gasoline took about as much energy as we get out of the gas. You obviously can't use gasoline for all of that overhead energy needed or you'd never be able to sell any fuel, so the bulk of it has to come from less expensive (and more carbon-emitting) forms of fuel, i.e. coal.

And you must also consider the energy used to produce, ship, store, care for, and everything else related to the life cycle of a car. Granted, there are costs to producing humans as well, but that's a slightly different topic--presumably our hypothetical person already exists and it didn't take a factory to make them or a transport vessel to ship them to their owner.

eyePod

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Original link isn't working, so here's the cached version http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Qpv6wIF5aX0J:seattlebikeblog.com/2013/03/02/state-lawmaker-says-bicycling-is-not-good-for-the-environment-should-be-taxed/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

According to him, if we stop any one thing that gets taxed, then we should be taxed because of the loss of government revenue.

destron

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That idea, at least, makes a half-decent amount of sense: the traditional purpose of the gas tax is to pay for road maintenance, and vehicles cause wear and tear to the road in proportion to their weight (or at least, in proportion to the square of their weight or something).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_axle_weight_rating

It is the axle weight to the fourth power. (Emphasis because it blows my mind how big of a difference that is). Large trucks and weather overwhelmingly do the most damage to roads.

Therefore, it's "unfair" for a 3000 lb, 50 MPG hybrid to be taxed less than a 3000 lb, 25 MPG non-hybrid car.

What is unfair, IMO, is that most of the money used to upkeep highways does NOT come from taxes on cars. The federal highway administration spent $52 billion in 2010 (http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/transportation/federal-highway-funding) but only collected $11 billion in taxes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excise_tax_in_the_United_States). That is what is unfair. If I don't have a car, I am already paying for 4/5ths of the national highway system. That doesn't include local roads (the ones that bikes are on). So saying that bikes or priuses don't pay their fair share is dishonest. People with inefficient vehicles should be paying extra money to people who use less gas because it places a downward pressure on the cost of gas, thus helping them spend less overall.

You could argue that it's good to encourage efficiency by giving high-MPG vehicles what amounts to a tax break, and I might agree with you, but at that point you're actually arguing for changing the purpose of the gas tax.

This might make sense if roads were up kept only using gas taxes.

Personally, I would not mind having a mileage tax because I try to minimize my driving, and it would offset the amount of other tax money that is being used for roads. I wouldn't even mind having a bicycle tax if it actually led to more infrastructure, but we know that tax money is not used "fairly", not even a little bit. That is not the purpose of taxes. If taxes were only used for something directly related to what generated the taxes, we wouldn't need taxes -- we could go to a direct payment system, e.g. toll roads.

Paul der Krake

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eyePod

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Some good science talk over on Reddit about this:

"First, is there any real difference on the carbon emissions between the car and the human riding a bicycle (quantity/quality/impact to environment etc.)? "

Without trying to be condescending... how is this even a question?

Assuming a male ride, bicycle rider + bike + gear is going to weigh around 200-250 pounds or so. A car + passenger + fuel, closer to 3,500 for a small car, 4,000 for a medium sized car. The amount of energy necessary to move a car the same distance as a bike is going to be an order of magnitude greater. No matter the carbon-based fuel source, there is quite simply no way for the car to be releasing less carbon back into the atmosphere than the bicycle rider.

To put this in perspective, it takes me 1 "hamburger" to travel 30 miles on my bike. That's about a gallon of gas for a car, or, according to this link http://www.stewartmarion.com/carbon-footprint/html/carbon-footprint-car.html, 14 pounds of CO2. According to this linkhttp://micpohling.wordpress.com/2007/03/27/math-how-much-co2-is-emitted-by-human-on-earth-annually/, that's more than 10 times the total CO2 output of a human from a single day of breathing. Me upping my O2 intake for the hour it takes me to bike 30 miles is not making up the difference any time soon.

Making the argument that the total carbon footprint of a bike is worse than a car make no sense on any scale. Fuel costs are lower by an order of magnitude because energy needs are lower by an order of magnitude (and then some, as speeds increase). Production costs of the bike and the associated carbon footprint of manufacturing, lower by at least an order of magnitude (my bike: 28 pounds of metal and rubber) relative to the car.

Back of the envelope calc for total force applied to the road shows that a bicycle rider applies more force:

250 lb rider/bike with ~4in2 (1 inch x 1 inch x 2 tires) of contact = 62.5 psi 4000 lb car with ~144 in2 (6 inch x 6 inch x 4 tires) = 27.8 psi

I could see the congressman arguing that the increased force applied does more damage. I found one article talking about excessive truck weight having a larger impact than cars.

This is also kind of wonky. You are measuring the normal force, not actual applied sheering force to the surface of the road. You are in effect saying that the road is damaged by a stationary bike or a car. But it's not. A road is damaged by the force applied to the road by the tires of the bike or car from: acceleration, deceleration, and calculable rolling resistance. The latter will be about the same, in some senses. The value of first two? How many 30 foot burnouts do you see a cyclist doing from a stop light? How often do road bikes power slide during an emergency stop? How often does a road bike have to emergency stop from 60 mph? How about 40?

And that's the stuff that actually damages a road. Not just sitting on the road, but actual friction between the tires and the surface of the road during movement. Torque applied by the car's drive wheels is going to be much higher, rolling resistance is going to be much greater, heat generated much more significant, and the force applied from a sliding car much greater, all because the size and speed and momentum of the vehicle is commensurately higher.

The question you're asking here is superficially interesting but when you actually look into it, it's a bit absurd. The forces needed to move and stop a car are so beyond the performance profile of a bicycle.

DISCLAIMER Math done in links not verified by me, and could be wrong, in which case, I will revisit this post, but I don't have time to double check it.

igthebold

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Without trying to be condescending... how is this even a question?

The only plausible angle I've ever seen has been to discuss the end-to-end cost, *assuming* petro-chemical laden, gas-fuel tractor farmed, corn-fed beef. Just anecdotally, this site says one corn-fed cow takes 248gal of oil.

Don't know how convincing it is, but at least it aimed to take the whole picture into account.

mpbaker22

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Without trying to be condescending... how is this even a question?

The only plausible angle I've ever seen has been to discuss the end-to-end cost, *assuming* petro-chemical laden, gas-fuel tractor farmed, corn-fed beef. Just anecdotally, this site says one corn-fed cow takes 248gal of oil.

Don't know how convincing it is, but at least it aimed to take the whole picture into account.

Exactly - watt-to-watt, human calories are probably more expensive.  But bicycles only need a fraction of the watts of a car.

KimAB

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Human breath is more polluting than cars?  I guess he wants to breathe car exhaust when he gets CPR then!


Jamesqf

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The only plausible angle I've ever seen has been to discuss the end-to-end cost, *assuming* petro-chemical laden, gas-fuel tractor farmed, corn-fed beef. Just anecdotally, this site says one corn-fed cow takes 248gal of oil.

But what portion of the average diet - or my diet in particular - consists of corn-fed beef?  I might have gotten the extra calories I used to bike from the bread I baked yesterday, the handful I pine nuts I ate as a snack (rode the bike into the hills to gather them, too), the cherries I picked from my trees and froze...

igthebold

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But what portion of the average diet - or my diet in particular - consists of corn-fed beef?  I might have gotten the extra calories I used to bike from the bread I baked yesterday, the handful I pine nuts I ate as a snack (rode the bike into the hills to gather them, too), the cherries I picked from my trees and froze...

Definitely. I think the issues are far more complex than most lawmakers from any side of the argument are willing to deal with. Throw in the fact that some scientists are saying grass-fed beef has a higher carbon footprint and you just throw up your hands.

Guitarist

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Clearly, by his own logic, he needs to be heavily taxed for his wasteful mouthbreathing instead.



Our Congressmen and Congresswomen would be poor with all the CO2 they spew.